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Northeast Region 2024 Turkey Hunting Forecast

Northeast Region 2024 Turkey Hunting Forecast

Posted 2024-03-04  by  Brian Lovett

Experts say hunters in this turkey-rich region can look forward to a solid spring season

Turkey hunters find a lot to love about the Northeast. Sure, hunting pressure might present challenges in some spots, but the region has a great mix of longstanding turkey hunting tradition and relatively fresh opportunities.

Better, prospects for Spring 2024 look pretty good. Here’s what to expect this season.

Image: NE_eastern_8

The Northeast is a fine destination to chase big gobblers. Image by Bruce MacQueen


The Constitution State should be steady this spring, according to William Cassidy, wild turkey and small game program biologist with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“We’d expect a level of consistency with 2023,” he said. “Marginal spring weather conditions and, subsequently, brood numbers, don’t show any significant growth in the population, while fall harvest declined,” he said.

Northeastern Connecticut typically yields the highest harvest numbers. The southeastern portion of the state might be down in 2024, as a significant harvest occurred in Voluntown, North Stonington, and Griswold this past year.

Connecticut hunters took 1,279 birds during Spring 2023.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in Connecticut)


“The Spring 2024 outlook is positive on the heels of a record-breaking harvest in Spring 2023, and the harvest has hovered around 600 birds annually since 2012,” said Gary “Adam” Macy, migratory game bird and turkey biologist with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Macy said most zones in Delaware experienced a harvest increase in 2023, but Kent and Sussex counties typically have the state’s highest numbers. Overall, hunters shot 785 turkeys during Spring 2023.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in Delaware)


With a spring hunt that runs into June, Maine has become a darling for traveling late-season turkey nuts. And 2024 should bring good opportunities.

“The overall outlook is a good number of 2-year-olds in the mix, based on good productivity in 2022,” said Kelsey M. Sullivan, migratory and upland game-bird program leader with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s Research and Assessment Section. “[Maine has] fewer jakes, based on lower productivity in 2023, due in part to the very wet spring we had.”

Sullivan said that trend has been seen throughout the state. Maine hunters took about 7,000 turkeys in Spring 2023.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in Maine)


Bob Long, wild turkey and upland game-bird project manager with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said he expects Maryland’s Spring 2024 harvest to be similar to or slightly less than the 2023 mark of 5,356 turkeys.

“Poult production two summers ago was near average in most of the state, likely resulting in decent numbers of 2-year-old gobblers,” he said. “Jake numbers may be lower due to poor reproductive success last summer.”

Long said turkey populations continue to be strong in the western mountain areas of Maryland. Turkey numbers are growing in central region counties near the more suburban areas of the state. On the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay, previously high turkey numbers have declined in many areas.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in Maryland)


Despite declining permit sales, Massachusetts’ turkey harvest has remained very strong and stable the past several years. David Scarpitti, wildlife biologist with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, expects continued strong hunting opportunities in Spring 2024.

Most turkey zones and counties have seen stable to increasing harvests.

“A sneaky sleeper area of the state is Martha’s Vineyard (Zone 13),” Scarpitti said. “Huge turkey populations exist there, with very little hunting effort. Logistics and land access is limited, but if you can get out there, you’ll be rewarded.”

Massachusetts hunters took 3,082 turkeys in Spring 2023.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in Massachusetts)

New Hampshire

Allison Keating, turkey project leader with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, said the state’s outlook is fair to good, but the season might be down somewhat compared to recent years.

“This is due to a combination of factors,” she said. “New Hampshire has had record-high spring harvests for five consecutive years. The Spring 2023 breeding season and Summer 2023 brood rearing season were some of the rainiest on record in the past 100 years and resulted in lower brood productivity. Preliminary results from the Fall 2023 harvest indicate it was the lowest it has been in the past 20 years. Recruitment from the Spring 2023 breeding season into the 2024 season likely will be down. December 2023 continued with the rainy conditions from earlier in the year. Winter severity is yet to be determined.”

Keating said Wildlife Management Unit H1, along the Connecticut River; Wildlife Management Unit J2, in the Lakes Region; and southern wildlife management units H2, K, L and M continue to see the highest turkey harvests. Turkey densities north of the White Mountains are lower compared to the rest of the state, but hunters can still find birds there.

New Hampshire hunters took 5,580 turkeys during Spring 2023.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in New Hampshire)

New Jersey

Jimmy Sloan, game-bird biologist for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, expects New Jersey’s spring harvest to remain steady in 2024.

“We have had good poult production the last few years and normal spring rain,” he said. “[It has been] somewhat of a mild winter thus far.”

New Jersey’s southern turkey hunting areas hold more birds and continue to have higher harvests, Sloan said. Hunters took 2,545 male birds during Spring 2023.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in New Jersey)

New York

News from the Empire State isn’t all good, but Josh Stiller, small-game unit leader for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, expects the Spring 2024 harvest to be similar to that of 2023, when hunters took about 17,000 birds.

“Summer poult surveys in August continue to indicate hen turkeys just are not as productive as they once were in New York,” he said. “Over the past 10 years, annual poult-per-hen estimates for the month of August are approximately 0.5 poult per hen less than they were when turkeys were at their peak in the late 1990s.”

Stiller said the Catskill region and St. Lawrence River Valley remain the strongholds for New York’s turkey population.

“Anecdotal reports from hunters in the Finger Lakes and Lake Plains (along Lake Ontario) have expressed concern about the number of turkeys they’re experiencing, although that has not been observed in DEC’s harvest estimates or harvest-independent indices of populations,” he said.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in New York)


Spring 2024 prospects in the Keystone State look pretty good, thanks to an abundance of 2-year-old gobblers, according to Mary Jo Casalena, wild turkey biologist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

“But again, that depends on the wildlife management unit, so I suggest hunters do their pre-season scouting. … If they aren’t seeing or hearing birds, [they should] review the recruitment data … to see what WMUs around them may have had better recruitment, and scout there,” she said.

Based on a three-year-average of hunter success, Casalena said the state’s best turkey WMUs are, in order, 5D, 2A, 2E, 2D and 2C. In terms of harvest per 100 days of effort, the top units are 2A, 5A, 3D, 2D and 2E. Units 2A, 2D and 2E overlap and are listed in both categories.

“We believe the habitat makes 2A, 2D and 2E so good, but a current research study will provide more in-depth information, once the data are analyzed after 2025,” she said.

Pennsylvania hunters took 39,500 turkeys in Spring 2023.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in Pennsylvania)

Rhode Island

Lizzi Bonczek, upland game-bird biologist with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, said Rhode Island’s Spring 2024 season should be similar to those of the past few years.

“From observations during the 2023 summer brood survey, we estimated an average of 2.9 poults per hen, which is just slightly lower than the past couple of years,” she said.

The northwestern part of the state consistently has the highest harvest, including the towns of Glocester, Burrillville and Foster, Bonczek said. In 2023, Exeter and Richmond were also in the top five harvest towns. Overall, Rhode Island hunters shot 341 birds in 2023.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in Rhode Island)


Chris Bernier, upland game-bird project leader with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, said results from the latest public turkey brood survey, conducted every July and August, indicated that 2023 poult production averaged 3.51 poults per hen, which was well below the 2007 through 2023 average of 4.05. Wet, cold weather during critical brood rearing months was the culprit. Still, news from the Green Mountain State isn’t all bad.

“Despite the poor brood production, fall mast sources were good to excellent statewide, especially in southern Vermont, where beech nut production was outstanding,” he said. “Furthermore, the winter conditions have been relatively mild to date, so barring any significant change in conditions, overwinter survival should be excellent again this year, and birds should be in top physical condition coming into the spring season. That said, hunters might expect to see fewer jakes this spring owing to the poor brood production.”

Bernier said productive turkey habitat, including a perfect mix of fields and forests, can be found throughout the state. The Connecticut River (wildlife management units M and O), White River (wildlife management units J1 and J2), and Lake Champlain (wildlife management units F1, F2 and K) valleys are always turkey hunting hotspots.

Vermont hunters took 6,586 turkeys during Spring 2023.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in Vermont)

West Virginia

The Mountain State has long been a popular turkey hunting destination. And recent news has been good.

Hunters took 12,217 turkeys during Spring 2023, a 30.4% increase from 2022 and the highest harvest since 2018. The top five 2023 harvest counties were Mason, Jackson, Preston, Harrison, and Hampshire.

West Virginia has good public land opportunities, too, with 500,000 state-owned acres and another million under U.S. Forest Service supervision.

(Read More: Turkey Hunting in West Virginia)


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